App became lifeline for new parents during Hurricane Irma

During NICU lockdown app provided updates to parents

ORLANDO, Fla. – Last year, News 6 highlighted the Ease App as a HIPAA-compliant secure tool that helps nurses in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Winnie Palmer Hospital get updates to parents.

This year, the app was put to the test as Hurricane Irma made a path through Central Florida.

Jovanni Joseph Chiclana was born on July 1, to new parents Wendy Edourd and Zachary Chiclana. At just 24 weeks, and weighing less than a pound, their baby boy was immediately taken to the NICU. Since then, Jovanni had made progress with both parents by his side.

"His first month of life was very hard for him, because his chances were really low of surviving," said Edourd.

"That's a hard thing," Chiclana said. "Seeing your baby in an incubator and you know that you can't touch him, you can't comfort him you know, you can't be there for your baby. All you can do is watch and hope that things go well."

On Sept. 10, when Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida, they had to say goodbye to their baby and wait for the storm to pass.

[PREVIOUS COVERAGE: App connects parents with their babies in NICU]

"You know, the first thought was like, well I'm not leaving the hospital. I'm gonna be at his bedside. Come to find out, due to protocol they can't allow that. So I was like OK, I will still be at the hospital but even if we were downstairs in the lobby, we still wouldn't be able to come up and visit him. So we just decided to go back home," Edourd said. 

But they wouldn't have to wait for updates about Jovanni's health. Nurses at Winnie Palmer had encouraged all parents with babies in the NICU to enroll with the Ease App program before the storm.

"We sent multiple updates during the hurricane. Not just the one in the morning but one in the afternoon, maybe, one in the evening. Just to try to ease their minds throughout the day," said Roxanne Baggitt, Registered Nurse, Level 3 at Winnie Palmer.

Officials from the hospital said 10,000 patients have enrolled in the EASE app through Orlando Health during the past four years.

"His nurse, Roxanne, it was really cool because she's funny. She would put all these little posts. Like he has this little jersey and she put him in the jersey on Sunday and it had a little 84 on it. And she was like, all ready for Sunday night football and I was just like, 'Oh that's cute. That is too adorable,'" said Chiclana.

For two days the Ease App became a lifeline for parents to see their children when safety was critical in our community.

"And we decided, you know, to let him give his story, and make his own choice, and because of that, he's still here today," Edourd said.

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